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How to Escape to Enchanting Herm Island

How to Escape to Enchanting Herm Island

Nestled in the English Channel and bathed in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, idyllic Herm Island lies just 20 minutes by ferry from Guernsey, the second largest of the British Channel Islands. This tiny British paradise island, set in a turquoise sea is the perfect place to escape, relax away from the cares of the world, and take it easy.

At just 1 ½ miles long by ½ mile wide, the island of Herm punches well above its weight, with breathtakingly beautiful beaches offering superb water sports, puffin watching, scenic walks and some of the best seafood you’ll ever find.

Discover Herm Island: Britain’s Secret Paradise

At first glance, Herm might seem like a small dot in the ocean that you could explore in just a few hours. And of course, you could do exactly that, but you would be missing the point of Herm.

From the moment you arrive, this tranquil little island starts to weave its magic.

From the moment you step off the jaunty little ferry, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Soon, Herm will cast her spell over you and you’ll discover why so many visitors return to the island time after time – and why so many people choose to spend a week or more here.

It’s not just human visitors who love Herm either. In 2016 the island of Herm was recognised by the Ramsar convention for supporting a “rich diversity of flora and fauna”.

Where is Herm Island?

Herm is located in the English Channel, to the northwest of France and south of England.

Isle of Herm Map
Map of Herm Island

How to Get to Herm Island

Herm is too small to have an airport. You’ll need to fly or take a ferry to Guernsey, then take the Guernsey to Herm ferry from the harbour at St Peter Port (01481 721379).

Price: Adults £13.50, children £7.00 and infants £1.50. The fare is reduced if you catch the first boat of the day and return on the same day.

Location: Travel Trident ticket office is at the entrance to St Peter Port harbour (in Guernsey) and the boat departs from St Peter Port

Sailing Times: These vary throughout the year depending on peak times, daylight and tides.

Depending on the height of the tide, the ferry will either drop you off (and pick you up) from Herm Harbour, or from the Rosaire Steps.

Where to Stay on Herm Island

Herm has a good mix of hotel, self-catering, and camping options but these get booked up early! Herm Island is a real favourite of locals from the other Channel Islands and visitors from further afield. Check prices and availability for camping at Herm Island Camping here.

High summer is particularly busy, but Herm is a joy to visit before the school holidays start!

My favourite place to stay is the fabulous White House Herm Hotel – especially if you splurge and book the luxurious Crow’s Nest suite (sometimes you just have to splurge). With no clocks, TVs or telephones in bedrooms, plus a beachside location and simply exquisite food, this is a real find.

Things to Do on Herm

1. Visit Incredible Beaches

For such a small place, Herm Island is blessed with a rich variety of lovely beaches. Some are serene and quiet, while others offer an enticing variety of water sports including paddle boarding, kayaking and diving. The crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkelling in the shallows and the rock pools teem with life when the tide goes out.

The best thing of all about Herm’s beaches is that none are more than a gentle stroll away from the ferry or from the island’s accommodation. Shell Beach Herm is the most well-known and busiest, but all are stunning.

East Coast Beaches

  • Shell Beach
  • Belvoir Beach

West Coach Beaches

  • Fisherman’s Beach
  • Hotel Beach
  • Bear’s Beach
  • Oyster Point

Find more details about the beaches here

If you’re a lover of a fine beach, take a look at Jersey’s best beaches here. You might be inspired to book a multi-island trip!

One of the stunning sandy beaches on Herm Island, looking out across turquoise seas

2. Go Seal and Puffin Spotting

The Channel Islands are a haven for bird-spotters, with over 200 migratory species to look out for. My favourites are the colourful little puffins that breed throughout the Channel Islands from March to July.

Puffins on the rocky coast of Herm, Channel Islands
Image credit Luis

As the puffin colonies are on inaccessible rocky outcrops, the best way to see them is with a 2-hour puffin patrol by kayak from Outdoor Guernsey. Here’s a fantastic step-by-step guide on how to photograph puffins in the UK.

3, Watch out For Seals on “The Humps”

There’s a colony of Atlantic seals to spot, on the northern outcrop known as The Humps.

Atlantic Seals in Herm Island
Image credit: Davemhuntphoto

If you’re lucky, you might also see harbour porpoises and the three different types of dolphins that visit the Channel Islands frequently (Risso dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and common dolphins).

4, Walk the Channel Island Way Trail

The Channel Islands Way is a series of stunning coastal walks around the five largest islands making up the British Channel Islands. The walk around Herm should only take a couple of hours at the most, but there are plenty of places to stop off and simply enjoy the view. Or the sea. Or ice cream!

5. Visit Le Hermetier Island

This tiny islet (also known as “Rat’s Island”) is linked to Herm at low tide via a low causeway. About 250 metres off the Western Coast of Herm (between Fisherman’s Beach and Bear’s Beach) the islet becomes an island twice a day when the tide comes in.

Visit on an outgoing tide, to avoid the risk of getting stranded on Le Hermetier for many hours until the tide changes!

5. Explore Robert’s Cross

Excavated in 1841, this neolithic dolmen or burial chamber is located on the north side of Herm between Le Petit Monceau and Le Grand Monceau. The narrow entrance passage is at the eastern end of the dolmen, leading into a parallel-sided chamber that is almost 15 feet long.

6. See St Tugual’s Chapel and Garden

Herm only has one church, and this tiny 11th-century non-denominational chapel is a beauty! You’ll find very pretty stained glass windows and the loveliest, well-tended garden next to the chapel.

A few things to know before your trip to Herm Island!

Ditch the Heels, but Remember Your Walking Shoes

One of the best things to do in Herm is to ramble along the scenic footpaths, relishing the wind in your hair. Walking at a very leisurely pace, you can walk right around the island in a couple of hours and your camera will be packed with photos!

Take in the views across the bay to Guernsey with yachts scudding by and sea birds calling, before stopping off for refreshments at the Island’s only pub, the Mermaid Tavern.

Note: There are no bicycles allowed on Herm, so you can’t take one on the ferry with you.

Pack Light

The isle of Herm isn’t a “posh” location. Its appeal lies in the natural environment, delicious food, and in relaxing while surrounded by spectacular views. The trusty little local ferries that chug back and forth from Guernsey’s St Peter Port to Herm aren’t geared up for passengers with huge bags, but you’ll probably see locals popping across to Herm Island stocked up for a picnic!

Herm Island - Britain's secret island paradise

Pro Tip: Bear in mind that anything you take, you’ll be carrying as there are no cars, porters or luggage trolleys on Herm, although there is a luggage tractor service for guests staying over on the island.

Bring Your Bathers

There are 6 glorious and quite different beaches dotted around Herm’s pocket-sized coastline. From the ever-popular Shell Beach strewn with tiny white shells washed up by the Gulf Stream to the seclusion and tranquillity offered by Oyster Bay, there’s a beach to suit all visitors.

The gently lapping turquoise water provides a welcome break from the sun’s rays and you’ll be spoiled for a choice of water sports to try.

Pro Tip: Don’t let the gentle sea breeze fool you – you will need lashings of sun protection cream. If you forgot to bring some, you’ll find it stocked at the beach cafes.

hERM iSLAND bEACH sIGNPOST min

Herm FAQs

How Accessible is Herm Island?

Herm is beautiful; however, there are some accessibility considerations you might need to know about before you book your trip.

  1. The Ferry: Find your comprehensive access guide to the ferry here.
  2. Herm Harbour: There are steps up from the ferry to the harbour. While there’s a handrail, the harbour is tidal, so you’ll need to take care as the steps can be wet and slippery. The number of steps varies with the height of the tide (from 1 to 7 steps).
  3. Rosaire Steps in Herm: You need to negotiate 15+ old stone steps between the landing point and the ferry. The steps are uneven in height – some are shallow, but some are quite high – although there is a handrail.
  4. The Central Paths: Some of the paths are tarmac, while others are sand, grass or unfinished, and there are slopes that vary from easy to steep.
  5. The Coastal Paths: these are unsurfaced and uneven, with a mixture of slopes.

Who Owns Herm Island?

At the time of the Battle of Hastings (1066), Herm and the other Channel Islands belonged to the Duchy of Normandy in France. When William the Conqueror became King William I of England, all of the Channel Islands became the property of the British Crown.

After the occupation of the Channel Islands by German forces during World War II, Herm Island was in a very poor state. The States of Guernsey recognised that Herm was an “unspoilt island idyll that could be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike”, so they bought the island from the British Crown in 1949 and Herm remains part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey today.

Is Herm Island Dog Friendly?

Your well-behaved dog will be very welcome in Herm Channel Islands! All dogs must be kept on a leash for the ferry journey, and in busy public places (well, busy by Herm standards!).

From the first of May until the 30th of September there are four beaches where dogs are not allowed, but you can let your four-legged friend roam free on Bear’s Beach.

Herm is perfect for dog lovers in the low season as there’s plenty of dog-friendly accommodation and dogs can run free on all of the beaches.

Does Anyone Live on Herm?

The Herm Island population is about 65 permanent residents, including families with children. There’s a teeny primary school, but secondary schooling is provided on Guernsey, where children usually board with local families during the school week.

During the summer season, Herm’s population expands with around 100 seasonal workers moving to the island.

How Big is Herm Island?

Herm is small – just 1 ½ miles long by ½ mile wide with an area of 199 hectares. You can walk around the perimeter of the island (approx 3.9 miles) in about 2 hours, or

Are Cars Allowed on the Island of Herm?

There are no cars or bicycles allowed on the island, but there is a “tractor luggage service” to and from the harbour!

Where to Eat on Herm Island

For such a small island, Herm has plenty of places to eat, whatever your taste and your budget. Pretty beach cafes serve homemade snacks and drinks, while the Mermaid Tavern is THE place to meet and mingle over food and drinks.

If you want something more refined, head for the White House Hotel or the Conservatory Restaurant for mouth-watering local crab, lobster and oysters, fresh from the fishing boats.

The White House Herm also has lovely rooms if you fancy a longer trip but book early as it is exceptionally popular!

Tipping: Most eateries add 10-15% to the bill as a suggested tip. If you’ve had good service, there’s no need to tip more than this.

Love It? Pin It!

Have you ever visited Herm Island? Maybe you’ve been to one of the other Channel Islands? How was your visit? Did I miss anything here? As always, I’d love to get your comments about this post.

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Demi

Friday 4th of September 2020

Thank you for sharing. And now we get to know about this beautiful Island. I have never heard of it before. Looks really nice and the right place for relaxation.

Coralie

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

Thanks Demi - Herm certainly is a great place to go to relax and forget about the world for a while x

Tina

Friday 4th of September 2020

I visited the UK for the first time last year and absolutely fell in love. I have never heard of this island but would to visit one day. Definitely adding to the list@

Coralie

Wednesday 9th of September 2020

Thanks Tina, I can thoroughly recommend it. I hope you are able to make the trip once travel becomes safe and possible again x

Melissa

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

Puffins! I'm in! Wonderful post! I really loved the photography! Thanks for all the info!

Coralie

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

Thanks Melissa, that's so lovely to hear x

Kez

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

I love islands that don't have cars! We have a few here and it's lovely to visit them knowing you dont have to worry about traffic.

I also like the idea of being able to walk around the island in a few hours. It means that you can see a lot in just 1 day.

Coralie

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

One of the best things about Herm is how easy it is to explore :) If you like islands without cars, I recommend you check out Sark too - it's awesome!

Bolupe

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

Thank you for introducing Herm Island to me, I will be honest and say I have never heard of it. It looks like a secret Island to go to for a relaxing break.

Coralie

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

Hi Bolupe - it's fun to discover new places isn't it? You're right - it's the perfect place for a relaxing break :)

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